by Andrew Garda
It’s been another up and down week for the Montclair Mounties girls’ lacrosse team.
While they first built on their first win of the year over Mendham March 31, following it up with a 17-13 win over West Morris last Wednesday, they stumbled a bit during a 17-7 loss to Ridgewood on Friday. Then they bounced back with a solid 16-13 win over West Essex Monday.
It’s certainly enough to give you whiplash.
The Mounties led at halftime in each of the three wins this past week — against West Morris, significantly so — trailing only to Ridgewood, a game they never really got control of.
When the offense is firing on all cylinders, as it was in the West Morris game, MHS is hard to keep up with.
That’s in large part due to the efforts of players like Nora Giordano, Olivia Rivera and Jill Jennings
All three girls had massive games against West Morris (Giordano with five goals, Rivera and Jennings with four) but Ridgewood was able to disrupt them along with the rest of the Mountie offense.
That isn’t easy to do. Rivera has the second most goals (16) and overall points (18) while Giordano leads the team in both categories (17 goals, 21 points) and is just seven goals shy of making her 100th career goal as a Mountie. Jennings is right behind them with 10 goals, and she leads the team with 6 assists.
When a team is able to remove either Giordano, Rivera or Jennings, the macro effect is that the entire offense is knocked off kilter.
It’s harder to move the ball, and more difficult to clear a lane to the net for a shot.
This is a solid unit, but a team needs everyone to contribute. If a player — or in the case of the Ridgewood game, all three — have an off match, others need to step up.
Especially the defense.
With the way girls lacrosse is played and officiated, defense is a difficult task and overall game flow can be hard to come by.
When you’re facing a team that is having success on offense, as Ridgewood did, it becomes hard to pull yourself out of the hole you dug yourself into.
Not surprisingly, the Mounties do best when they can get off to a quick start. Once their attackers and midfielders find the net, the defense starts playing more relaxed and more effectively.
That makes life easier for netminder Olivia Lynch, who has been doing some great work in net this season.
Lynch is currently saving about 47 percent of the shots sent her way, and against both Mendham and Ridgewood, she saved better than 50 percent.
That gives the defense something to lean on, but you don’t want to put the goalie in the position of having to put on a superhero cape and save the day each game.
The Mounties needed consistent effort from the defensive unit to help their goaltender out, especially against the cream of the crop like Ridgewood and Glen Ridge. Those were two games where they didn’t get Lynch the help she needed and both were losses.
They certainly have the talent to play with teams like those and as we have seen with their wins, the talent to play good defense as well.
They’ll need to do so, with the bulk of their divisional schedule still to come.
MHS is in decent shape within the American Division, sitting at 1-1 after two divisional games (the loss to Glen Ridge and the win over West Essex).
The Mounties have just one more game this week, as they travel to play Mahwah today, April 13, at 4:30 and then will be off until April 19, when they travel to Morristown.